Rocco di Pietro to pay tribute to friend, the late Julius Eastman, with special “Hail Mary” performance

As one half of the upcoming September 26th, 2019 Interpretations Series 31st season opener at Brooklyn’s Roulette, composer and pianist Rocco Di Pietro has curated an evening of compositions that span his whole career.

With a setlist comprised of selections that Di Pietro wrote himself, one special piece makes for an exception: “Hail Mary” by the late Julius Eastman. A dear friend and colleague, Eastman composed the piece especially for Di Pietro. As such, it is more than appropriate to be included in this retrospective, and will be performed in an arrangement by Di Pietro on piano and Robert Dick on flute.

Watch a 2017 performance of Eastman’s “Hail Mary” at OSU Urban Arts
with Rocco Di Pietro (keyboard), Larry Marotta (guitar),
and David Nelson Tomasacci (recitation).

Of the piece, Di Pietro had this to say:

Julius Eastman’s “Hail Mary” was written for me in 1984 after a concert he had set up for us at the Clocktower in NY fell apart. He had commissioned me for a two piano work we were to play together. He was having a very hard time in NY, and he thought I was much too isolated in Buffalo. He wrote the “Hail Mary” as a consolation for my meditation, in which everything would be all right.

He admired me because I was still writing music with few opportunities, while he was giving up music altogether. It was a misunderstanding, as I wrote music to protect myself from reality. Julius did not like this Giacometti-like stance.

I buried the work for 32 years. I found it one day when the Guardian newspaper called and asked me about Julius in 2016. It was first performed in London at the LCMF in 2017, and I performed it myself in Berlin in 2018 at Savvy Contemporary Berlin.

I may have played it myself in New York in 2016 in an early non sequenced version at Spectrum, but I can no longer remember without checking past programs. Since then, Luciano Chessa told me he has performed it in NY at Mannes and in San Francisco.

As a special tie-in, Di Pietro will offer copies of his new book, Memoir of Julius Eastman, at the Roulette performance.

Although the book is not for sale, donations will be accepted to cover the cost of the galley and the book.

Following the performance, the book will be given away online and at

For more information about Interpretations’ 31st season opener, click here.